In the mid-1970s Dr John Upledger was the first practitioner to teach some of these therapeutic skills to people who were not osteopathically trained. Dr Upledger had become drawn to exploring primary respiratory motion after an incident that occurred while he was assisting during a spinal surgical operation. He was asked to hold aside a part of the dural membrane system which enfolds the spine, while the surgeon attempted to remove a calcium growth. To his embarrassment, Dr Upledger was unable to keep a firm hold on the membrane, as it kept rhythmically moving under his fingers. He took a post-graduate course in cranial osteopathy and then set out on his own path of clinical research. Over the years, Dr Upledger has done a great deal to popularize craniosacral work around the world.
When Dr Upledger began to teach non-osteopaths, he encountered great opposition from many in the profession who believed that the foundation of a full osteopathic training is necessary to practise the craniosacral approach. Many osteopaths are still of this opinion, and it continues to be a cause of much debate and argument. However, many also believe that this work can provide an integrated approach to health care in its own right and need not remain within the sole domain of osteopathic practice. Nevertheless, one thing is for sure: a good foundation in anatomy, physiology and medical diagnosis is necessary in order to apply craniosacral work with safety and competency. It also takes time and proper training to develop the necessary skills. It is an unfortunate fact that in recent years there are many people who have set up in practice with only minimal training.
Cranial osteopathy and craniosacral therapy.
It was Dr Upledger who coined the term "craniosacral therapy" when he started to teach to a wider group of students. Dr Upledger wanted to differentiate the therapeutic approaches he had developed and, furthermore, the title "cranial osteopath" could not be used by those new practitioners who were not osteopathically trained.
One question frequently asked is, "What is the difference between cranial osteopathy and craniosacral therapy?" Although Dr Upledger states that these two modalities are different, the differences are not always so obvious. They both emerge from the same roots and have much common ground, yet different branches have developed. A variety of therapeutic skills are now commonly used by both osteopaths and non-osteopathic practitioners of this work, so neither cranial osteopathy nor craniosacral therapy can be accurately defined by just one approach. However, in practice, craniosacral therapists often work more directly with the emotional and psychological aspects of disease.
In the biodynamic view of craniosacral work an emphasis is placed on the inherent healing potency of the Breath of Life. In this approach, the functioning of the body is considered to be arranged in relationship to this essential organizing force. This has practical ramifications for the way in which diagnosis and treatment are carried out. This way of working also has a direct link to the pioneering insights of Dr Sutherland. It's interesting to note that during the latter years of his life, Dr Sutherland focused his attention more and more on working directly with the potency of the Breath of Life as a therapeutic medium. He saw that if the expression of this vital force can be facilitated, then health is consequently restored. Dr Rollin Becker, Dr James Jealous and Franklyn Sills have each added valuable insights into the operation of these natural laws which govern our health.
In the last 15 years there has been a huge increase of interest in craniosacral work. It is now taught and practised in many countries around the world. As this work is largely unregulated by law, professional associations have now been set up in many of these countries.